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Internet security, reliable web hosting, and identity theft concerns

Internet Safety and Cooperation
Internet Safety and CooperationCopyright: pling / 123RF Stock Photo

Now, more than ever, one needs to be aware of the risks that exist on, or because of, the internet. Why? To ensure personal and professional safety as well as operational success. This is needed whether it is the security of one's personal computer, corporate office, web site, client's web site, or even a non-profit organization. Concerns include risk of being hacked, breach of data, identity theft, and outages (business and personal loss). No entity is without risk.

Panicking about the risks does not stop the risk from existing. The most reasonable and logical approach to this collection of concerns is to be as prepared as possible and to mitigate the risk as much as possible ahead of time.

Below are four areas (or categories) of concern. The purpose of this list is to start thinking about these categories and to follow-up by researching options before these concerns become a reality (or to eliminate the possibility altogether). Through preparation and mitigation of risk, the possibilities of damage can be minimized.

Malicious Malware

Recently, news that a "Hacking team is spreading government malware through YouTube and Microsoft Live," was reported by Russell Brandom in Yahoo! News. This is just one example.

Malware has origins and effects taking on several different forms. Even Microsoft has compiled an interesting timeline of malware.

One needs to be particularly careful with malware and should really consult a professional. In some cases, malware actually masquerades as "malware removal software," when in reality it installs the malware on the computer! To become a malware expert requires time in the trenches working with malware and this is why the best move is to consult with an expert to find out how to fortify the computer system, as well as the web site(s). In many cases, when it comes to hosting, the hosting provider can be consulted. They may even provide service or at least recommend the appropriate software for the web site. (See next section on hosting and monitoring.)

If it is not possible to consult with an expert, ensure that the information that is being obtained is coming from a reputable source like Symantec (Norton), Kaspersky, Trend Micro, etc.

Reliable Hosting (and Monitoring)

Whether it is a large corporate business or a small personal blog, one of the top needs is to ensure reliable hosting and monitoring of web site. One of the key aspects in obtaining reliable hosting is to research the available hosting providers. When it comes to protecting data and the business, the cheapest is not always the best. Cheap may provide a monthly or annual cost savings, but it doesn't cover the cost of a loss due to unreliable hosting or downtime that causes monetary business loss of income. On the flip side, expensive does not necessarily mean that it is the best hosting company out there.

The key is to do the homework and research what others are saying about the hosting company. Hosting reviews are a great resource. Also, participating in discussion boards provides an opportunity to ask questions and obtain first-hand reviews and testimonials.

Another often-missed strategy is to implement an uptime monitor to send a notification if the site goes down. Even with the best of hosting providers, downtime can happen. Many times it is something simple (i.e. a plugin issue) that can easily be solved. However, that only works if the outage is known. By implementing a free uptime monitor, the owner of the site is "in the know" before there is an issue.

Backup and Recovery

Backup software and strategy should be a part of any good data plan. Regular backups of the computer(s) and web site(s) should be made on a scheduled basis. These backups should also be tested regularly, to ensure that they are not corrupt. Even in cases where the backup software presents a valid data backup without errors, the backup should still be tested to be sure. A good rule of thumb is to have at least three backups and to test at least monthly. Depending on the volatility of the data, the backups may need to be done daily, even hourly. Some operating systems, like Apple, provide built-in software for backups. In the case of Apple, the software is called "Time Machine." For web sites, the hosting provider often provides backup service or backup software that is available for manual backups. (Refer to the resource(s) listed in the section above, related to web hosts.)

Identity Theft

Identity theft is another area of concern, and a very personal one, at that. According to IdentityTheft.info, 15 million people suffer from identity theft per year. The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics reports an older statistic. They claim that over 16 million people claimed identity theft a couple of years ago, in 2012. These numbers are staggering and enough to cause a person to pause and take heed.

Research, even on the web, can produce listings of services and products that are helpful in preventing identity theft, or at least minimizing the chances of it occurring. Similar to finding experts for malware removal, keep with the known experts when looking for help with preventing identity theft. Even software, from places like Symantec, may be an added benefit in the overall plan for identity protection.

Another way to keep apprised of changes and resources is to subscribe to quality resources, like those listed in this article, so that the information is new and the risks are identified before they become an issue. The most important aspect is trust and ensuring that the source of the information is a trustworthy source, including the trusted consultant/expert that is hired.

Above all, be calm, be safe.

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Deborah Anderson loves Los Angeles and keeping up with the news. During her time as chief technology officer in the financial industry, she ensured that the safety, security, and peace of mind were covered with the wealth management firms and their high net worth clients. You can keep up with her technology and financial tweets @TechAuditCom and keep up with the Los Angeles love @LuvLosAngeles. Connect with with her directly on Google+.